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The changes of understory plant diversity in continuous cropping system of Eucalyptus plantations, South China

Abstract

The assessment of biodiversity in managed plantations has become an important issue for long-term sustainability of the ecosystem. The continuous cropping system (CCS) is common practice in Eucalyptus plantations in southern China. In order to clarify the effects of such a practice on species compositions, species diversity, and functional type compositions of understory vegetation, a field trial was installed in the first and second rotations of Eucalyptus plantations. The treatments were replicated three times and arranged in a simple completely randomized design. Vegetation surveys were performed in 1998–2005 following the treatments. Although the CCS had no significant effect on the composition structures in terms of life-form, growth-form, seed dispersal strategies and breeding strategies, there were significant differences in percent coverages of shrub (SLC) and herbaceous layer (HLC) between two types of stand. The CCS reduced the species richness and species diversity remarkably, and was also particularly favorable for r-strategy herbaceous species at the expense of k-strategy woody species in understory vegetation. The repeated disturbances to soil and vegetation including clear-cutting followed by prescribed burning and mechanical plowing maybe the main factor which results in the negative change of understory plant diversity. Although more comprehensive studies on disturbance and a long-term monitoring of a broad-scale project will be required, we suggest that alternative silviculture, consisting of practices other than clear-cutting and prescribed burning, should be introduced to conserve species composition and diversity of Eucalyptus plantations.

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Acknowledgments

This study was supported by the Development Plan of the State Key Fundamental Research of China (No. 2002CB111504), the Foundation of Research Start-up for Returned Student from Abroad (1997-832), the Founding of Forestry Bureau of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region and the Foundation of Research of Guangxi University. We thank Shanhua Wei, Hongwei Li, Bai Zheng, Dejie Liu, Guofu Zhou, Zaisheng Tang (Guangxi Dongmen State-owner Forest Farm), and our colleagues Taiping He, Minyi Zhou, Bin He, Chengbiao Huang, Lijun Zhao, Yulin Zhu, Yongping Sun, Haiqun Deng, Minyan Ying, and Hanling Cheng for their assistance with the field work.

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Correspondence to Yuanguang Wen.

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Wen, Y., Ye, D., Chen, F. et al. The changes of understory plant diversity in continuous cropping system of Eucalyptus plantations, South China. J For Res 15, 252–258 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10310-010-0179-8

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10310-010-0179-8

Keywords

  • Continuous cropping system
  • Eucalyptus plantation
  • Functional types
  • Species diversity
  • Vegetation structure